‘We need to make clear that today’s main paradigm for understanding a human life, the interplay of genetics and environment, omits something essential – the particularity you feel to be you. By accepting the idea that I am the effect of a subtle buffeting between hereditary and societal forces, I reduce myself to a result. The more my life is accounted for by what already occurred in my chromosomes, by what my parents did or didn’t do, and by my early years now long past, the more my biography is the story of a victim. I am living a plot written by my genetic code, ancestral heredity, traumatic occasions, parental unconsciousness, societal accidents……
We are victims of academic, scientistic, and even therapeutic psychology, whose paradigms do not sufficiently account for or engage with, and therefore ignore, the sense of calling, that essential mystery at the heart of each human life.
In a nutshell, then, this book is about calling, about fate, about character, about innate image. Together they make up the ‘acorn theory’, which holds that each person bears are uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived.’
James Hillman: The Soul’s Code
A colleague, who does not speak Hillman, has asked for a translation….So here goes:-
‘We are more than the sum of our parts, more than a combination of our genes and our experiences. Any attempt to explain us risks missing us. It can reduce and diminish us. There is an ‘essential mystery at the heart of each human life’. When we engage with this, we move away from scientific, mechanistic language into the spiritual and mythic – this is the territory of the soul, of the soul’s journey, of ‘calling’ and destiny; some sense of a human being as a unique expression of the sacred or the divine – however any of us makes sense of that.’
At this service, our 25 or so therapists are a diverse group. We have between us studied very many theories in the course of qualifying, and over years of practice since then. Of course ideas – for example, about the shaping influence of childhood experiences on how we live as adults – can be extremely useful (when held lightly instead of as dogma). Often these are issues people want to explore – and explore fruitfully – when they come for therapy.
However, it is also true to say our therapists share some sense of this ‘essential mystery’ and some sense of a spiritual dimension to our human existence. This may translate into a faith, or a deep connection with nature, or ideas about relational depth, the transpersonal or collective unconscious, or or or….There is no ‘right’ way to wear essential mystery.
What it also seems to translate into, is something near to the heart of person centered therapy: a humility, a reverence, a trust in the ability of each person to realize the fullness of their unique potential and find their own way, given the right circumstances – Carl Roger’s potatoes, not in the cellar, but in the sun and the rain, the good rich soil, the turning of the year….
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter